US 7386573 B2
Media file organization for shuffled playback or rendering. One or more sets of media files available to be rendered are defined. Each of the defined sets represents one or more contiguous media files. A media file is randomly selected from one of the defined sets to be rendered. The one or more sets of media files are redefined, each of said redefined sets representing one or more remaining media files to be rendered. Another media file is randomly selected from one of the redefined sets for rendering. A packed array, sized according to the number of sets of contiguous media files, is used for allocating memory and identifying unplayed media files.
1. A computer-readable medium having stored thereon a data structure representing a plurality of media files to be rendered, said computer-readable medium comprising:
one or more media fields each containing data representing a contiguous sequence of one or more media files available to be rendered, at least one of said media files being randomly selected for rendering to a user via a media player application, said media data fields excluding the at least one media file after rendering, said one or more fields representing the contiguous sequence of the one or more media files sequentially according to a numerical value starting from 0 to N−1, wherein N is a total number of the media files in the defined sets; and
a packed array having pack array elements for representing the one or more media fields, each of said pack array element including two numerical values representing all contiguous media files in each set of media files that have not been randomly selected for rendering, said packed array having a maximum size corresponding to a total number of media files available to be rendered.
2. The computer-readable medium of
3. The computer-readable medium of
4. The computer-readable medium of
5. The computer-readable medium of
6. A method of rendering a plurality of media files in a shuffled playback, said method comprising:
defining one or more sets of media files to be rendered, each of said defined sets representing one or more contiguous media files, said one or more contiguous media files in the defined sets comprising one or more media files being listed sequentially according to a numerical value staffing from 0 to N−1, wherein N is a total number of the media files in the defined sets, wherein the defined sets are represented by a packed array having one or more packed array elements, said each pack array element including two numerical values representing all contiguous media files in each defined set;
rendering a media file to a user via a media player application, said rendered media file being randomly selected from one of the defined sets;
redefining the one or more sets of media files to be rendered, each of said redefined sets representing one or more contiguous media files remaining to be rendered; and
rendering another media file to the user via the media player application, said other rendered media file being randomly selected from one of the redefined sets.
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13. A computerized method of organizing media files for rendering according to a shuffled playback, said computerized method comprising:
defining one or more sets of media files available to be rendered, each of said defined sets representing one or more contiguous media files, said one or more contiguous media files in the defined sets comprising one or more media files being listed sequentially according to a numerical value starting from 0 to N−1, wherein N is a total number of the media files in the defined sets, wherein the defined sets are represented by a packed array having one or more packed array elements, said each pack array element including two numerical values representing all contiguous media files in each defined set;
randomly selecting a media file for rendering from one of the defined sets;
removing the selected media file from the defined sets; and
repeatedly defining the one or more sets of media files to represent one or more contiguous media files remaining available to be rendered and randomly selecting another media file for rendering from the defined sets to produce a shuffled playback, wherein the repeatedly defined the one or more sets of media files are represented by the packed array.
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Due to recent advances in technology, computer users are now able to enjoy many features that provide an improved user experience, such as playing various media and multimedia content on personal, laptop, or handheld computers, as well as cellular phones and other portable media devices. For example, most computers today are able to play compact discs (CDs) and have an internet connection capable of streaming and downloading audio and video so users can enjoy their favorite media while working on their computers. Many computers are also equipped with digital versatile disc (DVD) drives enabling users to watch movies.
In some multimedia environments, a computer has access to a computer-readable medium storing media files such as Moving Picture Experts Group audio layer-3 (MP3) files and WINDOWS MEDIA technologies audio (WMA) and video files. The computer typically organizes the media files into playlists when the media files are rendered on a computer by a media player application.
Users often desire to play back a particular set of digital media files in a random order, hopefully without repeating any of the media files, until all available tracks are played. For example, a user may use a random or shuffle playback feature for playing the tracks of a music recording album in a random order rather than the original order. The user may also use random or shuffle playback for rendering a collection of image files, such as a random photo slide show.
Traditional implementations create random or shuffle playback of music files by preparing a pre-randomization of all of the music files into a “playlist” and playing the music files in a linear order from the list. This type of traditional approach, while guaranteeing the first two randomly selected music files are consistently random with easy traversal, perform poorly when the number of available music files changes. As such, the shortcomings of the pre-randomization implemention require reshuffling or a reconstruction of a new pre-randomization list which, in its simplest implementation, results in a loss of the historical data and causes music files to be repeated before the entire list has been played once. Such an implementation could even lead to the same music file being played twice in a row.
Other conventional techniques maintain status data, such as played or unplayed, for each music file. For example, a flag may be used for each music file to indicate whether or not the item has been played before a music file with an unplayed flag is randomly selected. This use of an “already played” flag in a file's state data in this approach suffers tremendous disadvantage by requiring a CPU-intensive search to find a next music file to be played. In this implementation, typically a random location in the list is chosen and that file is checked to see if it has been played. If it has not been played, then the file is chosen and played. If it has been played, then the random selection is repeated until an unplayed item is located. It is possible to construct situations in which this random selection implementation can search infinitely and never find an unplayed item.
In yet another known implementation, a list of music files yet to be played is maintained and a music file is selected from the list as needed. This approach performs a relatively easy “one hop” random selection to find the next music file to play and allows for easy addition of new music files to be shuffled. This traditional implementation, however, requires a large initial amount of memory to track the unplayed music files. This is undesirable, especially for memory-constrained devices, because it requires an immediate static allocation of a large amount of memory space to accommodate the unplayed music file list. For large lists of music it is possible to construct a scenario where sufficient memory is not available to accommodate this initial allocation thus placing an artificial limit on the size of the playlist that can be shuffled.
Embodiments of the invention overcome the shortcomings of known approaches and implementations by organizing media files in a “packed array” to accommodate constant changes and limitations of a memory-constrained computing device. Moreover, aspects of the invention enhance the efficiency of random or shuffle rendering of all types of media files by expanding algorithmic complexity of random playback.
Embodiments of the invention also provide an efficient organization of media files for random playback to accommodate changes to the collection of media files to be processed such that dynamically adding or removing media files by the user will not adversely affect the operations of random playback. As such, aspects of the invention enhance the scalability of the random playback, particularly on memory constrained devices.
Other features will be in part apparent and in part pointed out hereinafter.
This summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter.
Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the drawings.
Referring first to
Still referring to
In organizing media files 108 for rendering according to a shuffled playback, MPA 104 arranges or has media files 108 arranged in a contiguous sequence. For example, MPA 104 arranges media files 108 in a contiguous sequence according to a numerical value from 0 to N−1, where N is the number of files to be shuffled and rendered (i.e., the files in a user's playlist). In one embodiment, MPA 104 defines one or more sets of media files 108 available to be rendered, and each of the defined sets representing one or more contiguous media files 108. In this embodiment, the one or more sets of media files 108 are represented by a “packed array”. For example, the “packed array” may be a derivative of the traditional sparse array data structure where an array is used instead of a pointer to track each of the media file2 108 in the defined sets.
There are many ways to represent a list of media files 108 in memory 112. One known approach is to allocate a contiguous block of memory space and have a one to one mapping between the media files 108 identified in the list and the contents in memory 112. For example, a block of memory space may be allocated to store a list of the integers from 1 to 1000 (or 0 to 999) to hold 1000 numerical elements. Each numerical element is initialized from the beginning to the end of the list with the integers 1 to 1000. In this approach, it is relatively easy to access any of these elements in terms of the processor efficiency (e.g., multiplying (N−1) by the size of the numerical element and then adding the product to the base pointer of the memory allocation permits access to the Nth element in the list). However, the disadvantage of this approach is once the list of media files is modified due to adding and/or removing of media files from the list, searching of media files on the list becomes more complicated, especially when the list is not sorted; a method of binary search on a sorted list is needed to optimize the lookup of media files 108. The processor's performance may be optimized to a O(log2 N) performance when binary search is performed on a sorted list. For example, O(log2 N) is a mathematical expression to indicate a measure of processing time or memory access time needed to execute a set of computer-executable instructions or codes. In this example, embodiments of the invention achieves a performance level of O(log2 N), which is a function of the base 2 logarithm of N numbers, where N represents the number of media files to be shuffled.
Next, a media file 108 is randomly selected from the list 206 for playback. In the illustrated example in
In a further example,
In one embodiment, in terms of overall memory efficiency, the worst case for the packed array implementation uses twice as much memory space as needed according to the simple contiguous memory case. For example, suppose MPA 104 randomly selects all odd or even from 1 to 100. The MPA 104 would be required to allocate 50 individual packed blocks (e.g., block 204 or block 208) each with an even or odd number as the index and each with a count of 1. Although it may appear that this approach does not optimally perform better than other approaches, embodiments of the invention allocate memory space for the blocks (e.g., block 204) in the packed array 202 as needed. In addition, a randomization function capable of generating all even numbers or all odd numbers from a list has negative properties as a randomization function. This makes achieving this situation more difficult. In addition, instead of initially allocating memory spaces for all media files 108 in the CRM 110 or in external media source 116, aspects of the invention effectively handle allocations of memory space such that memory demand increases as playback proceeds rather then requiring a large amount of memory to start playback. This allows MPA 104 to shuffle the media files 108 in a consistently random order, (i.e., no two rendering/playback sessions render media files 108 in the same order) while making traversing of list 206 easy by allocating memory space as needed. In addition, adding or removing tracks from list 206 by user 106 would seamlessly be incorporated into the random or shuffled playback without creating additional burden on computing device 102 or processor processing time.
In an alternative embodiment,
In an alternative embodiment especially suited to CRM devices where memory space is highly constrained,
To further illustrate the use of packed array 202, each of these N media files may be represented by an identifying value, such as a numerical value ranging from 0 to N−1. Each of the identifying value maps the numerical value to the actual media data about the media file stored in CRM 110, external media source 116, other attached storage mechanism, random access memory (RAM), in an external network server, or available only as network data sent to the device on demand.
To randomly select a media file from the list 206 to be played, a random number generator is employed to select an element from one of the defined sets of media files 108 to be rendered in one embodiment. For example as illustrated in
In one embodiment, the selected media file 108 is removed from the defined sets (e.g., one of the blocks 204 or 208). As such, the one or more sets are redefined, such as block 204 in
In yet another embodiment, computing device 102 receives a plurality of media files 108 to be rendered. The MPA 104 defines one or more sets of media files 108 to be rendered, and each of the defined sets (e.g., blocks 204, or 208) representing one or more contiguous media files 108, i.e., files organized in a contiguous list. A media file 108 is rendered by randomly selecting the media file 108 from one of the defined sets to be rendered. The MPA 104 redefines the one or more sets of media files, and each of the redefined sets representing one or more remaining media files to be rendered. Another media file is rendered by randomly selecting the other media file from one of the redefined sets for rendering.
While the packed array (e.g., 202 in
The order of execution or performance of the methods illustrated and described herein is not essential, unless otherwise specified. That is, elements of the methods may be performed in any order, unless otherwise specified, and that the methods may include more or less elements than those disclosed herein. For example, it is contemplated that executing or performing a particular element before, contemporaneously with, or after another element is within the scope of the invention.
When introducing elements of the present invention or the embodiment(s) thereof, the articles “a,” “an,” “the,” and “said” are intended to mean that there are one or more of the elements. The terms “comprising,” “including,” and “having” are intended to be inclusive and mean that there may be additional elements other than the listed elements.
In view of the above, it will be seen that the several objects of the invention are achieved and other advantageous results attained.
As various changes could be made in the above system and method without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description and shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.